Sama El-Masry, a popular and high-profile Egyptian belly dancer, has been sentenced to three years in prison and handed a fine of 300,000 Egyptian Pounds ($18,600) for “inciting debauchery and immorality” on social media, according to Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram.
The Egyptian celebrity was detained in April as part of a government crackdown on Instagram and TikTok influencers who it deems sexually suggestive.
Sama El-Masry denied the allegations and said that the content in question was shared from her phone without consent after it was stolen last year.
Cairo’s Misdemeanours Economic Court deemed Saturday that she had violated family principles and values in Egypt, as well as using her social media account to commit “immorality,” Reuters reported.
“There is a huge difference between freedom and debauchery,” John Talaat, a member of parliament who asked for legal action against El-Masry and other female TikTokers, said according to Reuters. El-Masry has said she will appeal the ruling.
This is not the first time a woman has been arrested for this in Egypt. Several other female influencers in Egypt have been accused of “inciting debauchery” since the country introduced a new cybercrime law in 2018, which allowed the government to censor online posts and monitor communication.
Entessar el-Saeed, a women rights lawyer and head of the Cairo Center for Development and Law, told Reuters: “Our conservative society is struggling with technological changes which have created a completely different environment and mindsets.”